“Wow, you look amazing in your wedding dress! Would you mind coming out in the rain with me for a bit?”
“Say, before we start the ceremony, how about taking a hike in your tuxedo through the forrest?”
“I know you said you wanted photos by the ocean, but what if you got in the ocean?”
“Just hold that pose a little longer, and try to ignore the frostbite, I’ve almost got the lighting down!”
“Pay no attention to the crowd forming, give her one more kiss!”
“Hey stranger, would you mind holding this branch in front of my camera for a few minutes?”
For some reason, all of these scenarios have presented themselves during recent wedding and engagement shoots. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with some of the most patient and adventurous couples to ever step in front of a camera, and I’d like to take a minute to thank them for putting themselves in these bizarre situations for the sake of better photography.
I have only just recently put my wedding photography portfolio online. I was afraid to share my work until I had assembled the “perfect” wedding portfolio. So, is my portfolio perfect? Absolutely not. Will it ever be? No. But every moment I sit on these photos they are going to waste, and I owe it to those wonderful, adventurous couples to share their photos with the world. So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy my forever-in-progress Wedding & Couples portfolio.
Ok, so this post isn’t necessarily recapping one particular shoot, but instead is meant to sum up my year as a photographer. Most of the time when I look at my photos, all I can see are the areas that need improvement . Hopefully this post can be used as a marker, which I can look back on a year from now and see where I was as a photographer, and where I’ve gone.
I’ve always struggled with words, so I hope I can let the photos do the speaking today.
Happy New Year!
For all of you couples planning weddings, you may wonder “How do I get beautiful wedding photos?” I don’t have a definite answer, but I do have some tips. Four tips actually.
#1. Have a beautiful wedding. You can’t get blood from a stone, as the saying goes. A good photographer can make good photos happen in a crummy situation, but you’ll never get truly stunning photos unless you take the time and effort (and, let’s face it, money) to make your wedding into a beautiful event.
#2 .Be adventurous. I was once assisting on a wedding shoot where the bride didn’t want to go outside because it was windy. I understand that hair & makeup can be a delicate process, but your wedding photos are going to outlast everything else from your wedding (except, hopefully, the marriage itself), so don’t be afraid to go that extra mile for the perfect wedding photo.
#3. Make time for photos. Your wedding day is going to be fun, but it is also going to be hectic. If you don’t schedule in time to sneak away for photos, they might not happen!
#4. Make sure your photographer is working with a second shooter. There are no re-takes in a wedding (well, usually not), and it is nearly impossible to capture every moment. Working with two shooters not only doubles your chances of capturing that perfect moment, but it allows for a second perspective, and a second (hopefully complimentary) artistic vision to your wedding photos.
I was lucky that Roisin & Gina were both adventurous brides having a beautiful wedding, who had set aside plenty of time for photos with me and my second shooter Kaylee. It was the perfect recipe for amazing wedding photos.
The wedding was held at Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth MA. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the venue, with my only memories of the place being 3rd grade field trips to see people in costumes re-enact colonial life. What I didn’t expect was a beautiful hidden garden – perfect for a small, intimate wedding ceremony. The weather was overcast, with a chance of rain (more than a chance actually), which is actually the perfect weather for an outdoor wedding. Don’t wish for too much sunlight on your wedding day – just a little will do.
After the ceremony itself there was the usual cocktail hour, which I used to pull the brides away for a quick portrait shoot.
The reception was simple, but elegant. A nice white tent over a parquet dance floor. One of the most important aspects of wedding photography, and photography in general, is shooting in nice light. Nice light only happens at certain times of day, mainly the hour or so after the sun rises, and the hour or so before the sun sets. The reception started in that golden hour just before sun set, and the light was further diffused by the white tent, so needless to say I was in photography heaven.
Just as the sun was setting, we snuck away for a few more photos in front of an old barn.
Satisfied, we headed back to the reception for dinner and dancing. Typically, my shoots tend to go something like this – Shoot for a while until I’m satisfied, then, just as I’m packing up my gear, something amazing happens and I quickly set up again and get my favorite shots of the night. This wedding was no exception. About 30 minutes into the dancing, just as I was snapping my last few photos for the evening, it started to rain. No, not just rain – pour. It was the type of rain that had people trapped inside and not wanting to leave for fear of not being able to see on the roads.
This is where it helps to be adventurous. I cautiously approached the brides and asked “How do you feel about shooting outside in the rain?”, to which I received a “Sure!” with no hesitation. And so we set out to the barn once more, but this time with dramatically different results.
I’d like to share the unedited version of my favorite photo of the night.
For any photographers, here was the setup.
Canon 5D Mark iii, with a 24-70mm f/2.8L lens at 24mm. 1/100s at f/2.8, ISO 1000
There was a light behind the couple, under cover of the barn, with no diffuser of any kind. I was in the rain myself, with my wonderful assistant Kaylee holding an umbrella over my head so the lens wouldn’t get wet. One key to the magic in this photo is the color and position of the umbrella and wedding dress. The couple was positioned about five feet in front of the barn doors The backlight hit the pink umbrella and the ivory wedding dress, and reflected a perfect gradient back against the barn doors. I would like to say this was planned, and that I’m some sort of far-seeing color genius, but it was really just serendipity.
Then, with a little photoshop to take out the distracting elements, and the canvas extended for that panorama feel.
We did a few more portraits out in the rain, and yes, Gina’s dress was soaked at the bottom. I’m pretty sure both she and Roisin have dried off by now, but they’ve got the photos to last them a lifetime.
Ok, so I’m actually a bit torn about this shoot. It’s one of my favorites because it was a lot of fun, it was really challenging and different, and we got some fantastic images out of it. On the other hand, I’m not quite sure if I can use these images in my portfolio, because I just don’t know where to put them! They’re not quite normal portraits, or couple’s photos… I’m just not sure where they fall. Any suggestions would be welcome!
But I digress…
My good friend Nick has always been big on halloween, often spending countless hours researching and creating his costumes. This year he wanted to go bigger than ever before. And so, with his girlfriend Rachel as his accomplice, Nick set out to create the best Joker & Harley Quinn costumes possible (based off of the Arkham Asylum game, to be specific). I would say he succeeded.
One of the reasons I’m showcasing this shoot here, is that the photography setup on my end was actually fairly simple, but incredibly effective.
I live in a large, open loft apartment in a renovated mill building. It’s the perfect live/work space for me – plenty of room for an office and a studio along with my living space. I knew that I wanted a background made of colored smoke for this shoot, I just didn’t know if my smoke machine would set off the alarms in my building. I figured I’d just go for it and see what happens, and luckily, the whole thing went off without a hitch.
Here’s the basic setup. I put up a white backdrop even though I knew it wouldn’t be seen, mostly as a precaution. Directly in front of the backdrop I set up a light with a small silver reflector and about 6 colored gels taped to the front (green ones for the Joker, and red for Harley). Directly in front of that light is where I placed the smoke machine. Here’s a photo of that basic setup.
The next step was to set up the main light, a beauty dish with a grid, and get some test shots. Luckily, I had my assistant Doug on hand to do some male modeling.
With the lighting looking decent it was time to bring in the Joker.
Creepy, right? With Nick/Joker in position, it was time to finally turn on the smoke machine and pray my sprinklers didn’t go off.
Success! Now that things were looking good, the next step was posing. We played around for a few minutes until we came up with this.
And that gets photoshopped…
Which, after some Photoshop…
We were off to a good start, so we switched up the colored gels and brought in Harley.
There was something missing from this, and after some brainstorming, we decided we needed some playing cards. Luckily for me I had both Doug and Kaylee, who are experts at throwing things at my models. And so we wound up with this image.
Which gets photoshopped…
This next one I’m throwing in just because my dog, who was very tolerant of this whole ordeal happening in his living space, is just too cute trotting around in the background.
And finally, the happy couple.
And then, after some Photoshop…
Overall, it was an exceptionally fun Halloween shoot. For those of you really into that particular holiday, I would definitely recommend capturing the occasion like Nick & Rachel! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year…
“How do you feel about sparkles?” I remember asking musician Dearest Pinky in the days leading up to our shoot. Luckily, she was on board with the idea, and that led to some of my favorite shots ever. With the help of my two expert sparkle tossers, Doug and Kaylee, we decorated a small area of forrest in confetti/glitter/sparkles.
“It looks like a unicorn died here” was said of the aftermath.
And now, presenting an exclusive behind the scenes look…